Biographical Sketches of the Iliff Family
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Name Dates
John Wesley Iliff, Sr. 1831-1878
Elizabeth Iliff Warren 1844-1920
William Seward Iliff, Sr. 1864-1946
Edna Iliff Briggs 1871-1951
Louise Iliff 1875-1966
Alberta Gearhart Bloom Iliff 1875-1967
John Wesley Iliff, Jr. 1877-1879
John Wesley Iliff 1898-1980
William Seward Iliff, Jr. 1900-1983
Thomas Corwin Iliff 1846-1918
Alberta Iliff Shattuck 1909-
John Wesley Iliff, Sr. (1831-1878)
Photo of John Wesley Iliff, Sr.

John Wesley Iliff was the son of Salome Reed Iliff and Thomas Iliff, a wealthy Ohio cattle farmer. Born in McLuney, Ohio, on December 18, 1831, John remained in his home state for his education at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware, Ohio (although he did not graduate). At the age of twenty-six, his father offered him a prosperous farm to get him started in a career, but John, who preferred to move west, asked for $500 in cash as a substitute for the farm.

John Wesley Iliff arrived in Ohio City, Kansas (Territory) in the spring of 1857, and there opened a mercantile business. Two years later, in the spring of 1859, he learned that gold had been discovered in the Colorado region, so with two partners and enough supplies to establish a new store, he joined the "Fifty-niners" migration to Denver. Iliff did not follow the same path of his companions on that adventure, however, because he never attempted to acquire his riches by mining. Instead, he found profit in supplying the needs of miners.

For two years after his arrival in Denver, Iliff operated a "Groceries, Provisions, and Clothing" store called "Fenton, Auld and Iliff, Merchants," located at the foot of Cherry Creek at Larimer and F and G. In 1861, Iliff sold his mercantile business and joined with a business associate to buy his first cattle herd. This business venture proved a lucrative one. In 1862, Iliff established his first ranch on the South Platte River, northeast of Denver. In 1867, he established a cow camp in the Wyoming Territory; by 1869, his cattle operations had enlarged sufficiently to require him to move his headquarters to Cheyenne, Wyoming. During the next decade he sold cattle to the railroads for their construction crews, as well as supplied beef to the United States government for army detachments in local forts and Indian reservations, as well a shipping one and two cars a day to the Chicago Stockyards.

These contracts provided Iliff the funds to buy one hundred miles of land in Colorado from Julesburg to Greeley along the South Platte, earning him the title of "Cattle King." At the peak of this cattle business, Iliff could travel for a full week on his range without ever seeking sleeping accommodations outside of one of his ranch houses.

On January 11, 1865, John Wesley Iliff married Sarah Elizabeth Smith in Ohio City, Kansas. Iliff had met Sara Smith in Ohio before traveling west. In October, 1865, the couple had a son, William Seward Iliff. Sarah died only two months after William's birth, and was buried in Ottawa, Kansas. William Seward remained with his mother's parents in Ohio City until about 1869, when he was brought to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to live with his father.

In 1869, Iliff and Company opened the first bank in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 1871, Iliff was made one of the directors of the National Bank in Cheyenne.

Five years after his first wife's death, John Wesley Iliff remarried. His new spouse was Elizabeth Sarah Fraser, from Fitzroy, Ontario. She was employed as a sales representative for the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Iliff and Elizabeth Fraser met in Denver and they were married in Chicago, Elizabeth's home prior to moving to Denver, by Rev. E.J. Goodspeed of the New Baptist Church, on March 3, 1870.

Following their brief honeymoon, the couple first returned to Cheyenne to make their home. Their first child, Edna, was born in 1871. In 1872, Elizabeth Iliff convinced her husband to move to Denver because she found the rude manners of local society and the new voting rights given to women by the Wyoming legislature repugnant; i.e., she did not want to serve on a jury with her social inferiors. In 1873, Iliff transferred the headquarters of his cattle business to Denver. John Jay Fraser, Elizabeth's brother, and J.W. Snyder, a friend, continued to manage the ranches in Wyoming after the Iliff family moved to Denver. John Iliff continued his cattle business while living in Denver, but he invested in local real estate as well.

In 1875, their second child, Louise, was born. In 1877, Iliff moved his growing family into the Shaffenburg Mansion on Eighteenth and Curtis Streets. On December 13, 1877, their third child, John Wesley Iliff, Jr., was born.

By the end of the year of 1877, John Wesley Iliff, Sr. had become ill with an obstruction of the gall bladder created by his many years of drinking alkali water on the Colorado plains. On February 9, 1878, John Wesley Iliff, Sr. died at the age of 47 years. His funeral was conducted in February 1878 by Rev. Thomas Corwin Iliff, a cousin from Salt Lake City, Utah, and Rev. Ellis of Denver. The body was buried in Riverside Cemetery where it remained until his daughter, Louise, had it moved to a family plot at Fairmount Cemetery in April 1920.

John Wesley Iliff was survived by his first son, William Seward; his wife, Elizabeth; and three children that he and Elizabeth had during their eight years of marriage: Edna (1871-1951); Louise (1875-1966); and John Wesley, Jr. (1877-1879).

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Elizabeth Iliff Warren (1844-1920)
Photo of Elizabeth Iliff Warren

Elizabeth Sarah Fraser was born on May 24, 1844 in Fitzroy, Ontario, Canada. Her father, William Henry Fraser, a member of the Scottish forces in Canada, and her mother, whose name is unknown, died while Elizabeth and her younger brother, John Jay Fraser, were young. Shortly thereafter, the two children moved to Chicago where they lived with an aunt, Elizabeth Miller, and her husband, William.

By 1868, Elizabeth Fraser was employed as a sales representative by the Singer Sewing Machine Company and had established an agency for Singer in Denver, Colorado.

There she met John Wesley Iliff. Two years later they were married in Chicago with Rev. E.J. Goodspeed, the pastor of New Baptist Church, officiating.

The new couple established their home in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where John Wesley Iliff's cattle business was headquartered. Elizabeth found the frontier community of Cheyenne crude. When the Wyoming legislature passes a law permitting women to vote, she feared having to serve on a jury with her social inferiors. In 1872, she persuaded her husband to move to Denver.

When Elizabeth Fraser married John Wesley Iliff, she inherited a three year old stepson from he husband's previous marriage. During their marriage of eight years, Elizabeth gave birth to three children: Edna in 1871, Louise in 1875, and John Wesley, Jr., in 1877.

In 1877, the Iliff family bought the Shaffenburg Mansion. Within a year of occupying their new residence, John Wesley Iliff, Sr. died of a gall bladder obstruction. To add to her grief, Elizabeth's only natural son, John, Jr., died of diphtheria approximately fourteen months later, on April 9, 1979.

John Wesley Iliff's death left Elizabeth with small children to raise and one of the largest cattle businesses in the West to manage. Both tasks she was able to handle with shrewdness and skill. She also invested in Denver real estate, and had stock in the German National Bank, the City National Bank in Denver, and the Union Stockyards in Chicago. Because she was such a good businesswoman, the Iliff fortune grew during her tenure as administrator. She resigned as administrator in 1883, after having sold half interest to J.W. Snyder and his brother, Dudley. In 1898, she sold the last of the Iliff cattle herd.

The Iliff children were educated in schools that taught them the amenities and disciplines that Elizabeth Iliff admired. In the fall of 1880, Mrs. Iliff enrolled her two daughters and one stepson in boarding school before making a tour of Europe herself.

Upon her return to Denver, Elizabeth Iliff met Bishop Henry White Warren. Warren had presided at his first annual conference in Colorado during the summer of 1880. He and Elizabeth Iliff were married in Evans Chapel on December 27, 1883. By 1884, Bishop Warren's episcopal residence was officially relocated from Atlanta, Georgia, to Denver.

The partnership of Elizabeth Iliff and Bishop Warren was a fortuitous one for both the Methodist Church and the educational institutions of Denver. The Bishop was a forceful religious leader and his wife a generous benefactor to church causes. Besides contributing to the construction of numerous church buildings, Elizabeth Iliff Warren was instrumental in establishing the Iliff School of Theology.

According to several accounts, John Wesley Iliff never joined a church, but he was a highly religious man who hoped to create a training school for ministers in the Rocky Mountain region. Before he could realize his dream he died, but his wife fulfilled his wishes. In 1884, she offered a gift of $100,000 to endow a school of theology as a graduate department of the University of Denver. Her only conditions on the gift were that her donation had to be matched by an additional $50,000 from other sources to endow the theological school, and that permanent site for the university had to be selected since the location of the institution had been a problem for some time.

Elizabeth Warren and Bishop Warren were appointed to the board of trustees of the University of Denver in the same year in which this offer was made. In 1889, the University of Denver moved to its permanent site of University Park. In the next three decades, as the university faced repeated financial crises, Bishop and Elizabeth Iliff Warren provided transfusions of money to the school's empty coffers.

Action on the establishment of a theological school accelerated rapidly in the late 1880's, when Elizabeth Iliff Warren actually gave the promised $100,000, and her stepson, William Seward Iliff, promised $50,000 for the building of Iliff Hall to house the new department.

Equally troublesome to Elizabeth Iliff Warren and her husband were their fears about the University of Denver's use of the new graduate department's endowment and the dean of the Iliff School of Theology, Arthur Hyslop Briggs. The Warrens were concerned that the university's trustees would attempt to use the graduate school's funds to solve the university's fiscal dilemma. Moreover, the dean of the school, their son-in-law through marriage to Edna Iliff, was in the family's opinion assuming unwarranted authority in his administration of the school.

To solve these problems, the Warrens "temporarily" closed the Iliff School of Theology in April, 1900. The school remained closed for a decade during which time Elizabeth Iliff Warren, with the help of her husband, negotiated the creation of the school as an independent entity separate from the University of Denver. The price for this move was the donation of $25,000 by Elizabeth, $5,000 by the Bishop, and the cooperation of both individuals in raising $20,000 more for the university. When the separation occurred in 1903, Mrs. Warren, her daughter Louise, and her stepson William Seward became trustees of the School.

In preparation for the School's reopening in 1910, Elizabeth Iliff Warren provided the funds for the refurbishing of the interior of Iliff Hall. One way she raised funds for this project was to sell linens from Puerto Rico missions. Her daughter Louise, and stepson William supplied new furniture and an organ for the Hall's chapel.

Besides involving Elizabeth Iliff Warren in the education and religious life of the community, her marriage to Bishop Warren led her to travel throughout the world to various church conferences with her husband. The Warrens had no children from their marriage, but each brought three children from previous marriages in to the family. On many occasions, one or more of the Warren or Iliff children would join their parents on trips to the Orient (1886 and 1888), North Africa (1888), South America (1889), or Europe.

On July 12, 1912, Bishop Warren formally retired from his bishopric; less than two months later, he died in Denver on July 23, 1912. Mrs. Warren did not travel extensively after the Bishop's death. On February 14, 1920, eight years after the Bishop's death, Elizabeth Iliff Warren died in Fitzroy Place, the home she and the Bishop had build between 1889 and 1893, and named after her birthplace.

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William Seward Iliff, Sr. (1864-1946)
Photo of William Seward Iliff, Sr.

William Seward Iliff was the only child born to John Wesley Iliff and his first wife, Sarah Elizabeth Smith. Two months after his birth, his mother died, and William was left in Ohio City, Kansas to be raised by his maternal grandparents. Around 1869, John Wesley Iliff returned to Kansas to take his son to his home and business headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyoming. There William lived with his father and his new stepmother, Elizabeth Fraser Iliff, until 1872 when the family moved to Denver.

William's father died six years after this move. Within another year, William was enrolled in the Chester Military School, in Racine, Wisconsin. He later transferred to the Pennsylvania Military Academy in Chester, Pennsylvania.

In 1883, William Seward Iliff began his college career at the University of Denver. There he became a member of the University's first football team. In 1888, he accompanied his stepparents, Bishop Henry White Warren and Elizabeth Iliff Warren, to China. Upon his return, he graduated from the University with a B.A. degree.

In 1889, William Iliff became a co-founder of the Iliff School of Theology, along with his stepmother. When Elizabeth Iliff Warren supplied $100,000 for the institution's endowment, William pledged $50,000 for the construction of Iliff Hall, the main building of the new graduate department at the University of Denver and a namesake for his father.

For the remainder of his life, William remained a staunch supporter of the theological school. He served as a trustee from 1903 to 1946, and donated an organ to the chapel of Iliff Hall when the school reopened in 1910 after a ten year closing.

William provided similar help to the University of Denver. From 1891 until his death in 1946, he served on its Board of Trustees. During 1926, he led a fundraising drive to build a football stadium for the University.

In 1888, William began his business career with the City National Bank of Denver; by 1891, he had become the vice-president. Between 1892 and 1905, Iliff worked for the American National Bank. From 1905 to 1910, he was associated with the public services and utilities of nine western cities. From 1910 to 1929, William operated a private investment business. He ended his career with the National Fuel Company, where he became treasurer and vice-president until his death on October 19, 1946.

William Seward Iliff was married to Alberta Gearhart Bloom in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Trinidad, Colorado in July, 1897. They had three children: John Wesley Iliff (born 1898); William Seward Iliff, Jr. (born 1900); and Alberta Iliff (born 1909).

The William S. Iliff Family first lived at Fitzroy Place while Bishop and Elizabeth Warren traveled. In 1898, they moved to Grey Gables. In 1899, they moved to their home at 2145 S. Adams.

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Edna Iliff Briggs (1871-1951)

Photo of Edna Iliff Briggs

Edna Iliff Briggs was the first child born to John Wesley Iliff and Elizabeth Fraser Iliff. Shortly after her birth on September 19, 1871, the Iliff family moved to Denver. There Edna remained until 1880, when she and her sister, Louise, were enrolled in Mrs. Hebb's School in Brighton, England.

Edna Iliff complete her education at the University of Denver in 1893 by graduating with a B.A. degree. During 1897, she was married to Arthur Hyslop Briggs, then the dean of the newly created Iliff School of Theology. This marriage proved troublesome when Edna's husband and her mother disagreed strenuously over the closing of the school in 1900.

Elizabeth Iliff Warren refused to continue carrying the school by supplying the funds for each year's persistent and substantial deficit. She also found Dean Briggs irksome because of what in her mind was his unwarranted assumption of authority.

Briggs, in turn, was concerned that the faculty's reputation might be blemished by the closing and insisted that Elizabeth Iliff Warren declare publicly that the cause of the closing was a lack of funds rather than a lack of talent. An unfortunate consequence of this dispute between Dean Briggs and Elizabeth Iliff Warren was an estrangement between Edna and her family that lasted the rest of her life.

Edna Iliff Briggs died in San Francisco in 1951 after a long illness.

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Louise Iliff (1875-1966)

Photo of Louise Iliff

Born on August 15, 1875, Louise Iliff was the second child of the marriage between John Wesley Iliff and Elizabeth Fraser Iliff. She lost her father at the age of three. Two years later, she and her older sister, Edna, were placed in Hebb's School in Brighton, England. When Louise returned to the United States is uncertain, but she completed her formal education (B.A.) at the University of Denver in 1917.

Louise Iliff never married. She lived with her parents in the various homes occupied by the Iliff and later Warren families.

After he mother's marriage to Bishop Henry White Warren in 1883, she accompanied her parents on many of their trips to South America, Europe, and the Orient. Louise was also present when her stepfather, the Bishop, retire from the ministry in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the General Conference of the Methodist Church in 1912.

Affectionately known at the Iliff School of Theology as "Aunt Louise," Miss Iliff was a major benefactor to the school. During 1903, she became a member of the Board of Trustees for the theological school, and she continued in that position until her death in 1966. In 1909, Louise Iliff was responsible for the acquisition of Iliff Hall's chapel furniture; in 1911, she donated $50,000 to create the John Wesley Iliff Lectureship fund which brought scholars to speak at the institution; and in 1926, she endowed a graduate fellowship in honor of her mother which provided, at that time, $400 a year to its recipient for further graduate study at a university or seminary other than the Iliff School of Theology.

When Louise Iliff died on April 22, 1966, she was the last surviving member of the school's original Iliff family benefactors. Her will bequeathed practically her entire fortune to the school (just under one million dollars), as well as the Denver home of the Warren family, Fitzroy Place. In honor of her contribution, the Trustees of the Iliff School of Theology established a Louise Iliff Visiting Professorship which provided for world religious leaders to teach at the seminary.

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Alberta Gearhart Bloom Iliff (1875-1967)

Photo of Alberta Gearhart Bloom

Alberta Gearhart Bloom was born on August 16, 1875, to Sarah Thatcher Bloom and Frank G. Bloom. Her father and uncles were pioneers in the cattle, banking, and coal businesses around Trinidad, Colorado. Like John Wesley Iliff, Frank Bloom prospered from his early start in the use of the region's resources.

Alberta Bloom attended Trinidad High School and then studied at the University of Denver.

Following her graduation in 1897, she married William Seward Iliff at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Trinidad, Colorado, with Bishop Henry White Warren and Chancellor William Fraser McDowell of the University of Denver officiating. During their fifty years of marriage, Albert and her husband had three children: John Wesley (1898-1980); William Seward, Jr. (1899-1983); and Alberta (1909- ).

Like the rest of the Iliff family, Alberta Bloom Iliff contributed in a major way to higher education in Denver. During 1912, she joined with four other persons to create the Chapel Guild of the University of Denver. In 1944, she gave $10,000 anonymously to endow the Frank and Sarah Bloom Scholarship for a promising high school student in Trinidad, Colorado who wished to attend the University. Six years later, Alberta Iliff offered another $3,000 for the school's Associates Fund.

In recognition of these services to the University, Alberta Bloom Iliff was awarded the Alumni Citation and an honorary doctor of law degree in 1951. In 1967, the University Alumni Association bestowed upon her its highest honor, The Evans Award.

Alberta Gearhart Bloom Iliff died on July 16, 1967, leaving $10,000 to her alma mater and $5,000 to the Iliff School of Theology.

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John Wesley Iliff, Jr. (1877-1879)

John Wesley Iliff, Jr., born on December 13, 1877, was the third and last child born to John Wesley Iliff and Elizabeth Fraser Iliff. He died from diphtheria on April 9, 1879, approximately fourteen months after the death of his father.

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John Wesley Iliff (1898-1980)

Photo of John Wesley Iliff.

John Wesley Iliff was born on June 25, 1898, Fitzroy Place. Like his parents, William Seward Iliff, Sr. and Alberta Bloom Iliff, he attended the University of Denver and received a B.A. in 1919 and an M.A. in 1920. Three years later, John completed a further degree in chemical engineering from Columbia University in New York City.

John Wesley Iliff was employed by the DuPont Company shortly after his graduation. He worked first at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware, later at the company's Philadelphia Laboratory, and for three years served as director of the Marshall Laboratory.

John was married to Marjorie Mathers and had three daughters: Jean, Sallie, and Jacqueline.

John Wesley Iliff died on February 27, 1980, in Springfield, Pennsylvania.

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William Seward Iliff, Jr. (1900-1983)

Photo of William Seward Iliff, Jr.

William Seward Iliff, Jr. was born on January 26, 1900. He was the second of three children born to William Seward Iliff, Sr. and Alberta Bloom Iliff.

He received the A.B. degree from the University of Denver in 1921, and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Columbia University in 1922. He married Dorothy Keller in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1935. They had two children, Marybelle and Suzanne.

William, Jr. served briefly in the Army in World War I. He again served in World War II, being assigned to the Field Division of the Selective Service System from 1940 to 1946, during which time he attained the rank of Colonel.

In 1950, he returned to Active Duty as an Assistant to the Director of Selective Service in Washington, D.C., where he served until he retired and returned to Denver in 1969. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Army Commendation Medal with clusters and six service medals.

William, Jr. was employed by the Denver National Bank, Halleck and Howard Lumber Company, and the National Fuel Company, where he was General Manager and Director. He was also active in the Denver Junior Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, William, Jr. served as a Trustee of the Iliff School of Theology, and on the boards of the Friends of Historical Trinidad and Historic Denver. He held membership in the Administrative Board of University Park Methodist Church, Beta Theta Pi, Gamma Sigma, the Denver Club, and the Denver Athletic Club.

William Seward Iliff, Jr. died on June 14, 1983.

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Thomas Corwin Iliff (1846-1918)

Thomas Corwin Iliff was born on October 26, 1846 in Perry Country, Ohio. He was a cousin of John Wesley Iliff. (John Wesley Iliff also had a brother named Thomas Corwin.)

In 1862, at age seventeen, he enlisted as a private, fighting under General Sherman in the Civil War. In 1868, while a student at Ohio University, he was granted a license to preach. In 1870, upon his graduation, he was admitted to the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Rev. Iliff married Mary A. Robinson in 1871. They had three daughters and one son.

Rev. Iliff served as a missionary in Utah and the Rocky Mountain regions from 1870 to 1901. From 1909 to 1917, he worked as a financial manager and lecturer. He was also a Trustee of the Iliff School of Theology.

Rev. Thomas Corwin Iliff, D.D. died on February 23, 1918, in Denver, and was buried in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Alberta Iliff Shattuck (1909- )
Photo of Alberta Iliff Shattuck

Alberta Iliff Shattuck was born on November 24, 1909, in Denver. She was the third child and only daughter of William Seward Iliff and Alberta Gearhart Bloom Iliff. Her brothers were John Wesley Iliff and William Seward Iliff, Jr. She attended University Park Elementary School, Morey Junior High School, and Kent School for Girls (then located at 933 Sherman Street), graduating in 1927.

In the fall of 1927, she entered Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts, spending her first two years there.

Her last two years were spent at the University of Denver, where she majored in chemistry, graduating in 1931. She continued there as a graduate assistant under Dr. Reuben G. Gustafson, receiving the Master of Science degree in the summer of 1932. The title of her thesis was "A Critical Study of the Kramer-Tisdall Cobalti-Nitrite Method for the Determination of Potassium in Whole Blood Ash."

Because of the Depression, she could not afford to enter the C.U. School of Medicine. However, she was able to get a job at the Child Research Council located there, which permitted her to take classes without paying tuition. In order to qualify for free tuition, she was given the title of Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and taught freshman medical students for one week each spring. She received her Ph.D. from C.U. in 1942. Her dissertation was entitled, "A Study of the Effect of Altitude on Certain Physiological Functions of Human Subjects." Dr. Iliff continued with the Child Research Council until 1959, when she resigned and married Dr. Robert C. Shattuck. Soon after, she adopted his two sons, Robert McDee Shattuck, age 19, and Donald McKeown Shattuck, age 17.

When Alberta's brother Seward resigned from the Iliff Board of Trustees, she became a member, where she continues to serve. She has also belonged to various organizations. While at D.U., she was a member of the sorority Pi Beta Phi; a pre-med group, Mu Beta Kappa; and a national chemistry organization, Iota Sigma Pi. While at C.U., she became a member of a national scientific society, Sigma Xi, and while at the Child Research Council, a member of the American Federation of Biological Sciences.

She was also a member of the St. Luke's Hospital Auxiliary, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Denver Fortnightly Club (1959). Her interests include travel (to such places as Italy, Greece, France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the British Isles, New Zealand, Australia, China, the Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, and numerous places in the continental U.S.), photography, skiing, and mountain hiking.

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